By Kurt Kragthorpe
Darci Olsen looks out the window toward Glenmoor Golf Course’s No. 1 tee and sees the past, present and future of a landscape that has shaped her life and continues to do so.
Creating a make-believe story to top this real-life tale would be difficult. Having grown up at Glenmoor in a Dehlin family that loves golf, becoming the course’s head professional and living through the emotional turmoil of the facility’s threatened closure last year is good stuff, and it’s about to get even better for her. Big plans are in the works with Glenmoor’s new ownership, on the property Olsen always has treasured.
“I can’t picture myself doing anything else,” Olsen said. Or anywhere else, really.
But let’s back up, because the word “picture” provides a road map for Olsen’s career. The siblings are 15 years apart, so Darci was a kindergartner when her oldest brother already was playing golf for the University of Utah. Devin Dehlin never would have known how he was influencing his sister to follow him into the golf business, but there’s historical evidence. It’s found in the drawing Darci created, saying her career ambition was to become a golf professional.
And here she is at Glenmoor, although that picture became somewhat blurry in the past couple of years. Olsen and her husband, Joey, moved home to South Jordan after they worked together for six years at Roosevelt Golf Course in eastern Utah, only to discover that an ownership dispute raised the strong possibility that Glenmoor would be sold to real estate developers.
At one point, Olsen said, “I thought it was a totally done deal.”
With the property in receivership, legal issues prevented her from becoming the face of the Save Glenmoor initiative. In practice, though, the community rallied around Olsen and her programs. “Show your value.” That’s what PGA professionals always are being told to do, and there was plenty of available evidence in Olsen’s case. The success of the PGA Jr. League, men’s and women’s leagues and other programs showcased Glenmoor’s place in the community and eventually led to a saving investment last September.
The “White Knight” whom Olsen references in detailing the story wants to be known strictly by the Glenmoor Holdings LLC title. What’s clear is that saving the course was just the start of what’s to come in the southeastern Salt Lake Valley. From his perspective as the Utah Section PGA’s executive director, a child of Glenmoor and a brother of the pro, Devin Dehlin said, “I can’t wait to see it in five years.”
The Dehlin family’s ties to Glenmoor already cover more than 40 years of the course’s 50-year history that was celebrated last summer with a 50-hole event and party. The late Pat Dehlin discovered the course and moved his family from Taylorsville, to be closer to it. Devin, Dustin, Danna and Darci all worked and played at the course, and their mother, Jeanne, still lives nearby.
Olsen keeps looking out that window as she speaks, on a rainy April afternoon. Her voice catches, as she tries to describe Glenmoor’s impact: “That’s our legacy. That’s our history. That’s a huge part of our lives.”
And that will become even more true for her, in the coming years. Her 8-year-old daughter, Randli, loves to play (“as long as it’s her idea,” Olsen clarified) and is likely to embrace the PGA Jr. League the same way that more than 100 youngsters do at Glenmoor. In the program’s third year, three levels of golfers are competing this spring, turning an individual sport into a team and family event on Friday evenings. And they deserve some of the credit for the success of Save Glenmoor, as South Jordan officials recognized what was happening.
“That was the game-changer,” Olsen said. “It totally changed their minds, just by doing my job and growing the game.”
The course is saved, but Olsen’s continually acts as if her work is just beginning. “My sister has lots of ideas,” Devin Dehlin said. “It’s like, ‘Darci, you can’t do all of ’em.’ But she does do all ’em all. It’s been fun to watch.”
She loves being a golf pro, thankful that the game enabled her to meet her husband. She was an assistant pro at Willow Creek Country Club when Joey was hired as an assistant superintendent. She started playing golf together and a marriage blossomed among the willow trees in Sandy.
Professionally, Olsen was encouraged by PGA members who kept telling her about career possibilities. “You can go anywhere you want,” they would tell her.
“I’m really lucky,” she said. “I’ve just always had great opportunities and pros that pushed me.”
She’s pleased that the Utah Section PGA is creating more chances for female pros to compete, and thankful that a male-dominated profession is so accepting of her and other women. She can picture herself, one of these years, as a section officer.
And as we know, the things Olsen pictures tend to become reality.
Kurt Kragthorpe is a Salt Lake Tribune sportswriter and frequent contributor to HER Fairways.
Photos by Fairways Media